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Good Stress, Bad Stress, Good Girl, Bad Girl

06/07/2013

Stress, we all have it in our lives, be it good or bad our bodies react to it. How we react and deal with it varies widely from person to person. The skills we use to cope may be beneficial or harmful to our mental or physical health. Not everyone learned to handle stress in healthy ways. Some of us do fine with good stress–a new baby, a raise, a child getting married, the electric bill going down. Some people handle bad stress better, natural disasters, a traffic ticket, burnt dinner or a broken down car. Our bodies act and react based on our past history and skills we have been taught and incorporated into our lives. Handling the situation in the moment can often lead to a delayed reaction once the stressors have passed. I’ll share here how I do and don’t handle stress in my life.

I am one of those people who whiz through and deal with what is going on seemingly well. From the outside I look calm and collected. When the crisis has passed or the newness of a positive stress is over I tend to fall apart. And, I mean really fall apart. When I fall apart I often do things that will later come back to haunt me, causing guilt and shame and regret.

I have lots of 3×5 cards, hand written notes, half sheets of paper of things to do when I feel overwhelmed. I know what I should do, I know what I shouldn’t do. What do I do? 95% of the time I an unable to use these valuable resources. My old coping skills kick in and override the voice of caution.

If you have read other posts, you will know that I am an Adult Survivor of Childhood Abuse. It is a lengthy post but will give you background for understanding where my coping skills originate from.

Skip this if you are triggered by or do not want to read about sexually based coping skills. I will start with a row of asterisks followed by several blank lines and end with the same.

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My go to relief of pent-up stress and tension tends to be sexual in nature. I know that in the long run I will eventually regret my actions, but in the short-term I don’t care. I’ve said before I would rather have temporary relief than no relief at all. When I get to this point I feel that there is no going back. hate to use a catch phrase, but until it “runs its course” I don’t seem to be mentally strong enough to pull myself out of the darkness.

I have bladder issues, potentially from the abuse. I have had surgery to repair it, but it was only partially successful. Often in times of high stress I will wake up having wet the bed, or find myself unable to control my bladder. This combined with the early mental conditioning, grooming or brainwashing, whatever you want to call it, can lead to heightened sexual arousal. I was taught that it felt good, to pee in inappropriate places, and to wet my pants and to wear a diaper. These things lead to a need to relieve the sexual tension in my body. Rather than do it in healthy ways (I am married so I do have this outlet available without breaking the law of chastity) I choose to take care of it myself. I will masturbate daily, a proven self-soothing technique in my formative years. I will read erotica, read about masturbation, scour the internet for explanations for why this happens to me and end up at websites that do not answer this question, exposing myself often to pornographic pictures, further feeding this need/desire to masturbate.

Notice I said choose. I realize that there is a choice, not that I am always in a place mentally and emotionally to make a good choice. My world becomes black and white, I am either good or bad. There are no shades of grey. And to my mind, illogical as it might seem to a “normal” person, once I have stepped into this other realm of coping I might as well dive in because I have already blown my time of being good. And if I am not being good, I might as well enjoy being bad. Totally wrong my logical mind says, absolutely right that other corner of my brain says. I feel as if I have no choice. In a way I don’t. I have given control of my life over to someone/something else.

 

 

 

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When I try to dig myself out of this vast canyon of despair and self-depreciation I have to admit I cannot do it alone. I realize at some point I must go back to my therapist and work through the pain. Work through the guilt and the shame. Allow myself to be a good person again. To make healthy choices. To feel spiritual. To feel worthy of the love from family and friends. I have once again put up a brick wall and walled myself in. I have to, one by one, brick by brick, dismantle this wall. Oh, it is so easy to sit here and type this. Action requires so much strength. My plan of action has to must be put in place. I sit here willing myself to use my plan. Rely on that part of my brain that says I can be forgiven, I can feel loved and worthy. Letting that part of my brain once again take over.

I must tell myself that once again I can put this behind me. That I can use self-soothe and calm myself in ways that make me feel happy and good about myself. Reminding myself that I am able to go longer and longer in between these periods of slipping up. As my therapist reminded me, this behavior was a “normal” part of my life for so, I have to override the need to hurt myself! I look forward to the day that I will be able to handle stress without going to this dark place. That healthy habits will come naturally. I must remember that I am worth it!

 

 

 

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